Clinical Nutrition for
Clinical Nutrition is the use of Nutritional Supplements and Natural Health Products at pharmaceutical doses, which have had external testing done to check for contamination and correct dosing. Clinical nutrition can be used to help treat a variety of conditions while trying to minimize side effects. The benefit of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor is that they are trained to determine correct potencies, extracts, and formulations which can actually have a positive impact. Unfortunately, many of the Natural Health Products found over the counter on store shelves are very low in potency, do not use the correct extract procedure, or do not have the optimal formulation/prescription to treat specific conditions.
When prescribed and used correctly, Nutritional Supplements can support the treatment of various health concerns. A Naturopathic Doctor can help identify the Vitamins, Minerals, Enzymes, and other Nutrients that would best benefit you and your health concern and design a Prescribed Formula specific for you and have it compounded from a nearby pharmacy. Alternatively, a Naturopathic Doctor can prescribe a Product from a line of predesigned and tested formulations that may not be available without a prescription or help you identify the correct product for you which can be found and purchased in the market without a prescription.
Clinical Nutrition can be used specifically as Preconception Nutrition to treat both the Female and Male partners or donors (of eggs or sperm) to help improve the quality and health of both eggs and sperm. It can also help prevent nutritional deficiencies that normally occur during Pregnancy, that may help to improve the health of the Child and Mother and prevent specific complications which may occur during birth or later in life. The importance of therapeutic nutrition prior to and during pregnancy is extremely important for proper Child development and optimum health for the Mother.
Research suggests that the use of Preconception Nutritional Counseling and Treatment is beneficial in preparing the Mother for a healthy pregnancy and to help identify key risk factors such as, nutritional deficiencies, environmental exposures, and unhealthy habits, to help prevent health complications during and after pregnancy. Proper use of nutritional supplements and dietary interventions prescribed on individual Patient requirements and Preconception Nutritional Counseling can increase infant birth weight, improve Pregnancy Outcomes, and support positive behavioural change in Patients [1,2,3].
Frequently Asked Questions
I already eat a very healthy diet, can Preconception Nutrition still benefit my health and fertility?
Clinical Nutrition is the Science of using nutrients in very high doses, which cannot be physiologically achieved from just a healthy diet alone. When certain Vitamins and Mineral, or other nutrients, are provided at these high doses, they have medicinal effects that cannot be observed from lower physiological doses (those we get from just a healthy diet). Using the correct nutrient in the right dose for the right amount of time can have a very big impact on your health and fertility. A simple example of this is the use of CoenzymeQ10 to improve sperm and ovary health, the benefits are only observed when given in higher doses from trustworthy products and used for the right amount of time. Using a subpar quality product, the incorrect dose, or for the incorrect amount of time will show minimal to no benefit.
Can Supplements help me get Pregnant?
The role of nutraceuticals in therapeutic doses has been studied over the last couple of decades. There is a significant impact for the role of nutrients and vitamins in improving fertility. In fact, anyone who is planning on trying to conceive should strongly consider the use of nutritional supplements to help support fertility ahead of time and while they are trying to conceive. Research looking at the role of nutritional supplements has found that Women with infertility who used such supplements were up to 2x more likely to conceive naturally when compared to Women that did not use the supplements. They may also be able to decrease aneuploidy rates (abnormal distribution of chromosomes during development of follicles), decrease damage to the eggs from chemical in our environment, reduce the oxidative stress that damages follicles and improve the integrity of the zona pellucida, or the cell membrane around the eggs.
Fertility Supplements to help with Male Infertility and Sperm Health
Taking supplements to support male fertility and increase fertility success rates is invaluable. With regards to sperm health, the sky is the limit. The ‘bar’ for what constitutes healthy or fertile sperm has been set incredibly low over the last 2 decades. The bar continue to be lowered as male fertility appears to be on a continuous rise with a decline in basic sperm health parameters. Research has shown that the use of supplements to support sperm health for the three months prior to an IVF increased the clinical pregnancy rate (positive blood test for pregnancy hormone and ultrasound to confirm pregnancy) by up to 2.9x increased likelihood when compared to the couples where Males did not use the specified protocol of supplements. The chances of carrying to term after IVF with a healthy baby were up to 1.8x more likely compared to the couples where the supplements were not used.
How do Fertility Supplements Work?
They help to reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress harms the DNA quality in both sperm and egg cells. A decline in egg quality and/or sperm quality lowers embryo quality, lowering chances of successful implantation. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) produce electrophiles (compounds with an unbalanced outer electron ring) and they will steal electrons from the DNA structure to help them balance their electric charge. This electron steal fragments the DNA of the egg and sperm cells. The supplements helps to quench these ROS so that they do not harm DNA quality of the sperm and/or eggs.
They increase adenosine triphosphate production (ATP) from the mitochondria (energy producing organs in all cells) in the sperm and egg cells. The increase in energy, or ATP, production helps the cells to function optimally, supporting proper expression of proteins and cellular functions. One of the main changes observed in egg cells after the age of 35 in a Woman is that the ATP production declines. This decline in ATP production has been hypothesized to contribute to the significant decline in egg quality. Providing supplements to support healthy ATP production seems to reverse this decline in egg quality and has been shown to help support healthier follicles/eggs.
Fertility supplements help to promote hormonal imbalance and are useful in the treatment of elevated stress, estrogen dominance, low progesterone levels, and support healthy and optimal thyroid function as well (thyroid hormones are crucial in supporting fertility, ovulation, implantation, and supporting pregnancy)
1. Temel, S., Voorst, S., Jack, B., Denktas, S., & Steegers, E. (2013). Evidence-Based Preconceptional Lifestyle Interventions: Special Issue on the Epidemiologic Approaches to Women's Health, 36(1), 19-30.
2. Lassi, Z. S., Imam, A. M., Dean, S. V., & Bhutta, Z. A. (2014). Preconception care: Caffeine, smoking, alcohol, drugs and other environmental chemical/radiation exposure. Reproductive Health Reprod Health, 11(Suppl 3).
3. Korenbrot, C., Steinberg, A., Bender, C., & Newberry, S. (2002). Preconception care: A systematic review. Mater Child Health, 6(2), 75-88.